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PACAF leaders discuss future of warfighting in Indo-Asia-Pacific region

Former University of Hawaii (UH) head football coach June Jones speaks with Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) senior leaders during the PACAF hosted commander's conference at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 26, 2017. At UH, Jones guided the Rainbow Warriors to what was the biggest single-season turnaround in NCAA history, taking a program that had gone 0-12 before his arrival to 9-4 in 1999, leaving the school as the winningest head coach with a 76-41 record over nine seasons. The three-day conference included a wide variety of topics and several guest speakers, preparing leaders in PACAF to remain poised to retain a competitive advantage in the evolving Pacific theater. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

Former University of Hawaii head football coach, June Jones, speaks with Pacific Air Forces senior leaders during the PACAF hosted commander's conference at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 26, 2017. The three-day conference included a wide variety of topics and several guest speakers, preparing leaders in PACAF to remain poised to retain a competitive advantage in the evolving Pacific theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Kamaile Chan)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- "I think that America’s future security and economic prosperity are indelibly linked to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, during his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee April 26, 2017.

His words reinforce the significance of why over 50 senior officers and enlisted leaders from the Pacific Air Forces area of responsibility (AOR), gathered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, April 25-27, for a three-day conference to discuss the future of warfighting in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“It’s a region that is poised as a strategic nexus for an opportunity that meets the four challenges of North Korea, China, Russia and [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria],” Harris added.

In his opening statement, Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the PACAF commander, addressed the group by saying, “To be successful in this theater requires a mind-shift both from the Airmen in the Pacific, but also from our senior leaders back in the states.”

O’Shaughnessy also identified key arenas that he has used to spread the message that PACAF is an expeditionary-minded warfighting command to include the Air Force/Navy Warfighting Talks, and the Component Commander Talks. Both platforms provide joint partners in the PACAF mindset of future warfare in the Indo-Asia-Pacific AOR.

The primary mission of PACAF Airmen is to provide ready air and space power to promote U.S. interests in a theater that is home to 60 percent of the world’s population in 36 nations spread across 53 percent of the Earth’s surface.

“We are relying on you to remain poised in order to retain our competitive advantage in this evolving theater,” O’Shaughnessy stated.

A substantial portion of the conference was dedicated to discussing intelligence observations and analysis on current and future threats in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, military analysts, experts in political philosophy and international political affairs provided some insight and background on current affairs and projected future developments.

Throughout the conference, breakout sessions provided an opportunity for Numbered Air Force commanders, wing commanders, and wing command chiefs to discuss their individual challenges and questions.

In addition to receiving quick resolutions to their concerns during the breakout sessions, the opportunity fostered introductions and relationship-building between the PACAF staff at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam and NAF and wing leaders from locations throughout the AOR. This notable milestone, enables continued dialogue and between PACAF commanders which is instrumental in developing a unified team.

Adding to the list of distinguished visitors, former University of Hawaii coach, and former NFL player and coach, June Jones, delivered an inspirational message on achieving excellence through intentional practice.

Though the military and football have drastically different ‘battlefields’, Jones discussed the continuous process excellence requires in order to be ready when opportunity presents itself. Focusing on Aristotle’s words, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

His words interconnected with the messages O’Shaughnessy relayed throughout the conference, that in order to successfully overcome challenges in the Pacific theater Airmen must not only shift their thinking, but continually train until that mind-shift is second nature. Only then will the future of warfighting in the Pacific change.

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